Light is one of the major controls on reef growth and carbonate production. The growth of present reef builders depends largely upon the amount of light available for photosynthesis. As light decreases with water depth, so does reef growth.
The computer model presented extends this principle by combining two functions, one for photosynthesis and the other for the extinction of light in water. The model is used to simulate the growth of Alacran Reef, Mexico, two reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and the reefs of the windward platform of St Croix, US Virgin Islands. The model also gives an accurate simulation of the growth of fore-reef walls in Belize, in agreement with the accretion hypothesis developed for this feature.